Teleological reasoning in infancy: The naïve theory of rational action

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Abstract

Converging evidence demonstrates that one-year-olds interpret and draw inferences about other's goal-directed actions. We contrast alternative theories about how this early competence relates to our ability to attribute mental states to others. We propose that one-year-olds apply a non-mentalistic interpretational system, the 'teleological stance' to represent actions by relating relevant aspects of reality (action, goal-state and situational constraints) through the principle of rational action, which assumes that actions function to realize goal-states by the most efficient means available. We argue that this early inferential principle is identical to the rationality principle of the mentalistic stance - a representational system that develops later to guide inferences about mental states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-292
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Volume7
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2003

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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